GREENFIELD — Tall and long-armed, Austin Alexander could be mistaken for basketball player.
The Mt. Vernon senior chooses to focus on golf. But he took a NBA mentality into the Hancock County Golf Championship on Tuesday at Arrowhead.
“I kind of put myself into the perspective of the Indiana Pacers,” Alexander said. “They didn’t really step up in postseason enough, and this is our postseason. This is where it starts.
“I needed to step up, and hopefully I can carry on through sectionals.”
Less than a week from the start of the state tournament, Alexander went LeBron James on the county golf field, claiming his third straight individual crown.
Alexander fired a 2-over 72 to edge Greenfield-Central’s Adam Casto (74), MV’s Oliver Mast (76) and New Palestine’s Brady Elliott (78) for top honors.
“Mentally it was, ‘I’ve won it twice, I have to come in and win it again,’” Alexander noted. “I didn’t win it my freshman year, I tied for second. But, it’s my senior year.”
Alexander’s recent county links dominance is surpassed only by the Marauders’ team mastery.
Led by Alexander, Mast, Will Dant (81) and Jacob Ault (81) on Tuesday, Mt. Vernon claimed its fifth straight county championship, and 10th title of the last 13 years.
MV’s 310 easily outpaced Greenfield-Central (332), New Palestine (347) and Eastern Hancock (390).
“It’s still a big deal,” Alexander said of the now-routine MV county title. “You’ve got the four schools that are most familiar and competitive to each other, as far as the people that we know and we’ve played with since sixth grade.
“And, to win it, this is just kind of the ring on our finger.”
The Marauders will face the same competition from the Cougars, Dragons and Royals, plus defending champ New Castle, in the sectional on Monday at Hawk’s Tail in Greenfield.
The Trojans fired a 316 in the 2013 sectional to run away from runner-up G-C (342), third-place Mt. Vernon (343) and Shelbyville (345). The top three teams advanced to the regional, along with NP’s Elliott as a top-three individual from a non-advancing team.
The Mt. Vernon boys have never claimed a sectional team title.
“New Castle is awfully good,” MV coach Caleb Zelencik said. “We’d have to play as well as we did today on Monday to have a chance.
“I certainly think it’s attainable. We’d have to play really well, but we can do it.”
Zelencik is also the Mt. Vernon girls golf coach, and he helped that program win their first ever sectional titles in 2012 and 2013.
For the MV boys to break through Monday, they’ll need to get past a New Castle lineup that returns four-fifths of its 2013 lineup. None of the Trojans shot higher than 81 at Hawk’s Tail a year ago.
Alexander’s 81 led Mt. Vernon, which was coming off a nine-hole county tourney score of 166 (or 332 if doubled).
Tuesday, Dant edged Ault for the final All-County spot – joining Alexander, Casto, Mast and Elliott – based on handicap of toughest hole. Jack Harker (88) posted Mt. Vernon’s fifth score.
“Like one of the parents said, we left some meat on the bone out there today,” Zelencik commented. “Certainly with the 81s, each of those guys had a double or a triple out there. We look at that and it very easily could have been 79s or 78s.
“So we know what we can do, it’s just putting it all together again on Monday and doing it.”
For Greenfield-Central, Casto is gearing up for another postseason run. After taking an 82 in the sectional last season, he fired a 75 at the regional and was the county’s lone representative at the State Finals.
Tuesday, Connor Pence (82), Clayton Long (85) and Jake Kauth (91) completed the Cougars’ scoring.
Elliott, who finished sectional runner-up a year ago to New Castle’s Blake Wheeler (76 to 77), was joined in the county scoring by teammates Aric Kotarski (86), Matt Kreutzer (89) and Grayden Martin (94).
Caleb Wallen (91) and Nelson Dulin (96) led the Royals.
At Hawk’s Tail Monday, New Castle, Shelbyville, Greenfield-Central and Mt. Vernon will tee off from 9 a.m. to 9:32 a.m.
Shenandoah, Southwestern and New Palestine are in the next groupings (9:40-10:12); followed by Eastern Hancock, Waldron and Blue River Valley (10:20-10:52); and, finally, Knightstown, Morristown and Triton Central (11-11:32).
“It would be pretty cool,” Alexander said of a possible sectional win. “It would be pretty nice to be able to put that banner up on the wall in the gym and be able to look at it from now on and know that we were the first ones to do it. And I think we can.”
Hancock County Boys Golf Championship
Arrowhead Golf Course, Tuesday
18 holes, par 70
Mt. Vernon (310):
Alexander 72, Mast 76, Dant 81, Ault 81, Harker 88
Casto 74, Pence 82, Long 85, Kauth 91, Humphreys DNF
New Palestine (347):
Elliott 78, Kotarski 86, Kreutzer 89, Martin 94, O’Dell 95
Eastern Hancock (390):
Wallen 91, Dulin 96, Allen 99, Bunnell 104, Stacy 119
Mt. Vernon, 310
Austin Alexander (MV), 72
Austin Alexander (MV), 72
Adam Casto (GC), 74
Oliver Mast (MV), 76
Brady Elliott (NP), 78
Will Dant (MV), 81*
*Tie-breaker based on toughest handicap hole over Ault (MV)